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Magical Homeless Person

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Basically, a homeless person with magical powers, or some connection to the supernatural. There are two usual reasons for this:

1) They're Beneath Suspicion, so their powers often take other characters, and in some cases the audience, completely by surprise.

and

2) Making them homeless either fits in with a theme of magic being opposed to materialism, or makes you Go Mad from the Revelation (as homeless people, both in real life and in fiction, frequently suffer from mental illnesses).

Part of the trope's appeal is the irony of someone at the bottom of the social ladder being ahead of everyone in terms of power.

It should be noted that it's usually made clear that not ALL homeless people are supernatural, just some.

Related to Blue-Collar Warlock. Compare Homeless Hero and Almighty Janitor.

Frequently overlaps with Wisdom from the Gutter, when a homeless person becomes a source of wisdom for the hero; both of these tropes are derived from folklore stories about angels and fairies that disguise themselves as homeless people. Can also overlap with Magical Barefooter, since homeless people are often shoeless as well.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Good Luck Girl!: When Momiji, goddess of poverty that she is, comes to Earth to achieve her mission, she's known there as a hobo; she wears dirty and torn clothes, eats from garbage, and sleeps under a bridge.
  • Kyutaro "God" Kamigama of 20th Century Boys is a wise man with psychic abilities and a tendency to speak in bowling metaphors. He is revered by his fellow homeless and even the main characters who meet him acknowledge his intellect.
  • The final arc of Tokyo Revengers reveals that the time-leaping powers Takemichi Hanagaki and his co-star's brother, Shinichiro Sano had originally come from a random homeless man. No one knows how he got it, but he imparts information on how to transfer the power to Shinichiro and gets the latter to kill him to make the transaction final.

    Comic Books 
  • Death: The High Cost of Living features the immortal, homeless Mad Hettie, who's a Mad Oracle to boot.
  • In Seven Soldiers, former Golden Age Kid Hero Ali-Ka Zoom grew up to be a hobo wizard after developing schizophrenia in adulthood.
  • The Silver Surfer story Parable starts with the aforementioned character living as a homeless covered with disposable clothes to hide his identity and keep guarding the people in the city in case some supernatural menace (or most specifically Galactus) appears.
  • Spawn had at least two supernatural homeless people, one a Former Hellspawn, the other an angel.
  • The Golden Age hero The Sword was often assisted by Moe Lynn, a poor factory worker who became transformed into the wizard Merlin whenever Arthur Lake summoned his powers.
  • X-Men: The Morlocks were a society of homeless mutants who lived underground to avoid being attacked by anti-mutant extremists. Most of them had mutations that prevented them from being able to pass as ordinary humans and were consequently driven from their homes and families. Many of them wound up being killed off during the Mutant Massacre event.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Polar Express has the mysterious hobo character living on the top of the Express who appears and disappears at random, and is strongly implied to be a ghost.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Absentia: Callie finds what appears to be a homeless man in the tunnel. In fact, he's one of the victims of the trans-dimensional tunnel-dweller. Although the man himself does not have magic powers, his true problems are supernatural in origin and invisible to normal people. From the outside, he just comes across as a crack addict.
  • Beauty and the Beast: Agathe, the local beggar woman who Gaston mocks, turns out to be the Enchantress who cursed the Beast in disguise, keeping an eye on the situation from a distance.
  • In the film Brother From Another Planet the eponymous brother is an escaped slave who lands on earth; his only physical departure from human normal is his feet. He can fix anything mechanical by touching it.
  • Bruce Almighty: The random recurring background hobo that is always shown with a board with "apocalyptic" writings is revealed to be God himself in disguise.
  • Hellraiser: the hobo eating bugs in front of Kirsty turns out to be a servant and close associate of the Cenobites. Just before the end of the movie, he appears out of nowhere to pick up the Lament Configuration and turns into a skeletal winged demon to take the box elsewhere and start the cycle all over again.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, Sing's backstory involves him buying a twenty-cent Kung Fu pamphlet for ten dollars from a homeless man. While at first it seems like the young, impressionable Sing got grifted, the fact that the kung fu moves are proven to be legitimate in the climax of the film after Sing's chi-pathways were unblocked implies that the homeless man recognized that he had The Gift and ensured that he had the means to embrace his destiny. There is also the fact that at the end of the film, he does the same thing to another kid, having not aged a day after all of these years.
  • Mulholland Dr. has the creepy bum living in an alleyway behind the Winkies diner who is strongly implied to be a godlike supernatural being pulling all the strings behind the movie's plot.
  • Prince of Darkness sort of falls into this category. The homeless are controlled by the devil, indicating they're at least more susceptible to the supernatural.
  • The Sex Trip: When Eddie and Steve go hunting for the witch that turned Eddie into a woman, they assume she must be homeless, and go hunting for her at various shelters around the city. They have no luck finding her, however, which means their assumption may have been wrong.

    Literature 
  • The Bas-Lag Cycle: The Ambassador from Tesh is said to be a powerful mage who chooses to wander the streets of New Crobuzon as a vagabond. He's the seemingly-benign vagrant Spiral Jacobs, and his signature spiral graffiti are a years-long Summoning Ritual to annihilate the city.
  • The Belgariad: Belgarath the Sorcerer is usually found Walking the Earth with nothing but the shoddy, mismatched clothes on his back. He's 7000 years old and the greatest disciple of the god Aldur, but he plays The Tramp to avoid notice, and he can create any material goods he needs at will anyway.
  • The Days Go So Slow by Nicasio Latasa has the unnamed eccentric homeless woman with psychic powers who helps the main character change his life.
  • In Declare, the Parisian clochards (homeless vagabonds) have mastered the art of walking in a particular way that makes them undetectable by any human surveillance because it makes their presence more like a djinn than a human.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's novel Dominion, the wino known as Feathers has been a skid row bum for over a millennium, due to a curse placed on him by a certain Nimue. In the present-day part of the book, the curse is wearing off, just as Nimue's plot is about to come to fruition.
  • Clive Barker's story The Inhuman Condition includes one in the form of Mr. Pope. Although his exact nature is never clarified, he at minimum has a knotted string sealing away monsters, and a book of spells.
  • Seanan McGuire's novella Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day has Sophie, a witch with a magical connection to rats. She divides her attention and mental capacity among many rodents spread out across the city, which makes her human self appear very scatterbrained and prevents her from fitting in with humans.
  • Johnny and the Bomb by Terry Pratchett has Mrs. Tachyon, a crazy bag lady with the ability to travel in time.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: Auri is a former Wizarding School student who "cracked" and now lives in hiding in the passages beneath the University. Though she can't bear to use her powers on her own behalf, they're implied to be vast.
  • Lady: My Life as a Bitch: Terry is an alcoholic homeless man with the unexplained power to turn people into dogs when he gets angry. When Sandra has a run-in with him, it happens to her, kicking off the book's plot.
  • The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul: The homeless people who congregate on King's Cross Station are all but stated to be ancient Norse gods who can shift between the mortal world and Asgard at will. It's eventually revealed that Odin himself had been living on the streets when the Draycotts found him. They observe that the gods have divine power but have no idea how to make it useful for themselves in a world that no longer needs and has forgotten them.
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: 16-year-old Magnus Chase has been homeless for two years at the start of the series after his mother was murdered, making him a little cynical towards the world. He later discovers he is the son of a Norse god, which gives him Combo Platter Powers — part of the reason he's survived on the streets as long as he has is that his demigod status makes him resistant to extreme temperatures. In addition, his Dangerous 16th Birthday means he can now claim his birthright... and everyone wants to kill him for it.
  • In the Matthew Swift series of novels, anyone in the know about magic can call on anthropomorphic personifications like The Beggar King for magical assistance by invoking him while going through the daily motions of being homeless — panhandling, sleeping rough, etc. The main character does this once early in the first novel when he is technically homeless (using stolen money to stay in hotel rooms) but it is not clear how common this practice is or how many rough sleepers are aware of their patron deities despite the paper-thin Masquerade.
  • Neverwhere centres around an entire supernatural society living beneath (and occasionally above) London, known as "London Below" generally all but invisible to others when on the surface and, if seen, looking just like the average homeless person. The main character, Richard Mayhew, ends up being drawn into this when his Good Samaritan nature causes him to help a wounded member of London Below and this makes people start ignoring him as well.
  • Pelagia and the Red Rooster has Emmanuel, the mysterious wandering prophet with the uncanny ability to bring out the best nature of everyone he meets. Combined with his extraordinary perception bordering on mind-reading, it leads to situations like when he completely reforms a hardened killer with a few gentle words while the latter is taking aim to assassinate him. Of course, none of this is surprising, as the novel all but spells out that Emmanuel is actually the time-traveling real-world prototype of Jesus.
  • Shadow Police: Played With. Whilst not necessarily homeless, due to how magic largely works either through sacrifices or through tapping into cities' memories, a sizable portion of the London magical community both genuine and wannabe (the actual line blends to the point that it's unclear if there really is one) live simple, often spartan lives in near squalor and utilise old, often threadbare clothes hoping it will give them access to the magic. As Lisa notes in "Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?" whilst attending the Circle of Hands convention, many members are dressed effectively in rags hoping to impress the City with their poverty.
  • Eatbugs from Tailchaser's Song is the cat equivalent. He's a reoccurring elderly Talkative Loon who disappears as quickly as he appears. It turns out that he's the legendary demigod Tangaloor Firefoot with amnesia.
  • Wizard in Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm (aka Robin Hobb), who to keep his magic must never have more than a dollar in his pocket, must remain celibate, and he must feed and protect the pigeons.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Once Upon a Time: In Season 7, Tilly is a street informant for Detective Weaver (the re-cursed Rumplestiltskin) who lives by herself in a boxcar and has to take pills for a mental condition. Later revealed to actually be Alice, daughter of Wish Realm Hook and Mother Gothel, and a Guardian, a person of incredible magical power who is incorruptible by evil and will sacrifice anything for others.
  • The mysterious drifter from 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd who cursed the title character into turning into a dog.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Jesus, a penniless wandering prophet and also the son of God with seemingly unlimited powers.
  • In Norse Mythology, the Father-God Odin is frequently encountered by humans in the guise of a cloaked lonely traveller on the road or in lonely places. Odin may be doing this to teach and educate, to test humans with regard to the hospitality they are capable of showing to a seemingly elderly one-eyed homeless wanderer, or else For The Luls as a Trickster God.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions supplement Organization Book 3: The Blood and Dr McQuark. Pathfinder has several Blood superpowers, including creating illusions and teleportation. After he murdered his father, he was overcome with guilt and became a homeless alcoholic wanderer known as "the meanest hobo in the universe".
  • The tabletop game Hobomancer is exactly what it says on the tin — the player characters are Depression-era magicians that are also hobos and wander the Earth bringing balance to the world that has been tossed askew thanks to events like the Dust Bowl.
  • Old World of Darkness:
    • Vampire: The Masquerade:
      • The Nosferatu Clan often has connections to the poor and homeless of any city they have a toehold in, often recruiting vagrants as Ghouls by getting them addicted to Nosferatu blood, blessing them with vampire Disciplines and immortality while also cursing them with a hint of the distinctive Nosferatu ugliness. In a few cases, some homeless folk are Nosferatu, having been Embraced in accordance with the Clan's attachment to outcasts; the "Vet" and "Derelict" character templates are prime examples of this.
      • In the Gehenna scenario "Fair Is Foul," the 16-year-old homeless girl Lyta is soon revealed to be a Dhampyr, having been born with limited vampire powers; ever since she was unofficially adopted by Lilith, she's also been experiencing nightmarish prophetic episodes. Furthermore, she's being safeguarded by seven homeless beggars, all of whom turn out to be incredibly powerful vampires working for Lilith, including a master shapeshifter, the greatest blood mage in history, Malkav's reality-warping sister, and the original Brujah Antediluvian.
      • Any player character without points in the Resources trait also qualifies. A character with 0 Resources has no home, no vehicle, and no possessions beyond the clothes they're wearing, 20$, and maybe a weapon or useless object of sentimental value.
    • Mage: The Ascension features an entire subgroup of lower-than-lower class Blue Collar Warlocks; known condescendingly as "Orphans," they are mages who have Awakened without being attached to either the Traditions or the Technocracy, leaving them to develop their own magical systems by trial and error. Given how traumatic Awakening can be under the wrong circumstances, many of these Orphans struggle to make a living and are often homeless, drug-addicted, or even mentally ill. As such, they are frequently culled by Technocracy HIT-squads, forcibly recruited by either side of the Ascension War, or preyed upon by the Nephandi.
  • Quite likely for a mage in Shadowrun, as mages and techmancers are discriminated against (especially by the justice system), and tend to be hunted by megacorps (meaning even a mage with some cash might want to keep their head down). Combined with the number of people who live in poverty anyway, it's not unusual for an awakened runner to be living rough.
  • More common than not in Unknown Armies, where using magic basically requires you to have a worldview that diverges from the baseline in a way that lends itself towards living under a bridge and spending your days yelling at pigeons.

    Video Games 
  • In Condemned 2: Bloodshot, protagonist Ethan Thomas has become so shaken from the events of the first game that he becomes a homeless alcoholic. He is nonetheless picked up by the SCU to help with their current case, and in the course of the investigation, he discovers he has the ability to destroy things with his voice.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The "Knights of the Nine" expansion adds a mysterious Prophet who spends all his time in the gardens of Anvil, preaching by day and sleeping among the plants at night. He's quite well-versed in ancient history and religious lore for a vagrant, can offer a powerful blessing, and is ultimately implied to be the god Talos.
  • In Fahrenheit, the Invisible are a secret society posing as homeless people who, while never demonstrating supernatural powers themselves, are aware of other supernatural factions and even mentor the protagonist in the use of his own awakening powers when he meets them.
  • Infamous: One of the factions who have taken control of the ruins of Empire City is the Dust Men, who are made up of various homeless people who gained powers as a result of the Blast. Their leader is Alden Tate, the former heir of the First Sons before they were deposed by Kessler. He even already had powers BEFORE the Blast.
  • Life Is Strange
    • In the first game/season, Max meets a mysterious homeless woman, who seems to know a little more about the strange happenings around Arcadia Bay than she lets on. If Max warns her she's been having dreams of a storm, she leaves town without any further prompting (without Max's warning, she's found dead).
    • Implied in Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, as the graffiti left on trains by drifters and homeless people includes warnings about Arcadia Bay.
    • Life Is Strange 2 stars brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz, who become homeless after their father is killed in a Police Brutality incident. Said incident also serves as a Traumatic Superpower Awakening for Daniel, making him this trope.
  • The Secret World
    • The Fallen King is a crazed street prophet who reportedly sleeps "underneath" London, dabbles in panhandling on the Tube, and wears plastic bags on his feet; however, his prophecies seem worryingly applicable to the looming apocalypse currently hanging over the world, and just listening to his first speech causes Templar-aligned players to experience visions of the cataclysm in Tokyo. To date, nobody has any idea of who he really is, and the full extent of his powers remains a mystery.
    • Callie James is a runaway and a member of Gaia's Chosen sleeping rough in Ealdwic Park. Having been committed to a mental hospital after her magical powers manifested, she was a test subject of an Orochi Group subsidiary before being discarded as a failure and dumped on the streets of London. Most of her time is spent learning how to control her powers, trying to decide which of the factions she wants to side with, and trying to keep her friend and fellow vagrant John Galahad out of trouble.
  • Tales of the Drunken Paladin has save points in the form of a magical hobo (who call themselves exactly that.) They are exceptionally snarky and rude to Anebriate (who isn't exactly a saint himself), and eventually one of them gets thrown into Magical Hobo prison for abandoning his contractually-bound job as a save point because Anebriate pushed his limit to the point of him storming off.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: YĆ« Nanba is a homeless man whose "magic" attacks include summoning pigeons and breathing fire using alcohol and a lighter.

    Webcomics 
  • The concept is Played for Laughs in this Critical Miss strip, in which Erin points out to Ryu from Street Fighter that he has no job or education, and just spends his time "throwing fireballs at people."
  • In The God of High School, Seo Hallyang appears to be an unassuming homeless man begging on the streets of Seoul. In actuality, he's a member of The Six, the most accomplished martial artists and Borrowed Power wielders in Korea. Seo is a Multi-Melee Master without compare, wielding an arsenal of 108 National Treasure-class magical weapons from across history and mythology. His skills are so profound that he teaches Mori Hui, Mori's clone and a copy of the legendary Sun Wukong, a thing or two about wielding a staff and is powerful enough to injure the likes of a god like Zeus.
  • "Test" by Elcomics has a rookie cop being dragged by his superiors to interrogate a homeless guy that has killed at least half-a-dozen other cops. As the interrogation goes on, the homeless guy reveals that he's an alien, and his official profession is an Auditor, and as an Auditor he gauges whether a sentient species is worthy to join the interstellar union he represents. To do so he disguises himself as the lowest member of the social order, a homeless person in this case, and record the species' reactions. After being chased off by business owners, robbed by other homeless people, beat up by thugs, and arrested (likely for any law that makes homelessness a crime) he concludes that humanity is the worst species he's encountered, and not worthy of existence, and must be driven to extinction for the sake of the universe. When the rookie replies that those are just bad examples, and that there is plenty of good he didn't get to see, the Auditor gives him a handgun and makes him an offer: become an auditor, leave earth behind, and travel the universe or kill himself to spare the rest of humanity to prove there is good in them. The rookie considers choices and decides to kill himself, the Auditor stops the bullet from impacting his brain and says that maybe there is good in humanity, and politely excuses himself and leaves. It's heavily implied that Humanity won't be wiped out, but won't be asked to join the interstellar union either.
  • Zebra Girl: After the Subfusc arc's Time Skip Jack, by then the Archmage of the reawakening world, is posing as a homeless person in order to find and recruit new wizards.

    Websites 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-1933, Bailey's Santa, is an old, obese homeless man who has Irish cream instead of blood and other bodily fluids running through his body. If someone drinks the Irish cream that came from his body, there is a chance that all their bodily fluids will transform into Irish cream, which will instantly kill them.

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: While the adventuring parties by definition are made up of wandering beings with exceptional skills, Caleb Widogast perhaps fits the "hobo sorcerer" description best. He first appears as a vagabond human wizard, complete with beard and grubby clothes, teaming up with Nott the Brave to steal for survival before uniting with the rest of the Mighty Nein as an adventuring party. It later comes out that he was once an exceptional student at an exclusive magic school, but was taken advantage of by his mentor to become a Child Soldier for the Empire. When he was tricked into killing his parents and realized what he was doing, he was driven insane and locked in an asylum until a fellow inmate healed him. His homelessness is due to being on the run from his mentor and the rest of the Assembly. He later gains multiple homes through his adventures.

    Western Animation 
  • Static Shock: The Big Bang hit a number of homeless people, giving them superpowers. Other Bang Babies became homeless by running away from home when their powers kicked in:
    • Maureen Connor/Permafrost is a young homeless girl who gained the power to generate ice and manipulate extreme cold. Her fear and mental issues make it difficult to control her powers. Part of the Aesop of her solo episode is for Static to understand that she isn't purposely trying to hurt people and just needs compassion and help. He connects her to a local church's homeless program.
    • Ragtag is an older homeless man who gains the power to give others powers but only for a short time. He forces them to commit crimes for him in exchange for powers.
    • The Night-breed all became homeless when their powers came with extreme light sensitivity, forcing them to live underground.

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